PUNXSUTAWNEY — Architects from KTH Architects spoke when the Punxsutawney Area School District Facility Needs Task Force at a community meeting regarding large capital projects the district will undertake in the next ten years invited community input on those projects.

“We have decided that it is time, now that we are a consolidated school district, to start talking about what major facility needs we need or want to have in the next decade or so. We want your input. There is nothing set in stone and no decisions will be made tonight. I want this to be a positive experience,” Superintendent Thomas Lesniewski said.

Lesniewski introduced John Finn and Bob Englebaugh, the two architects from KTH Architects who assisted the district during the consolidation.

The first item of discussion was replacing the roofs on the high school and elementary school. He said both are wearing out and it will be a major expense to replace them. Englebaugh said both roofs are EPDM system (a synthetic rubber roofing membrane), with the elementary school being a ballasted EPDM and the high school being a tiered EPDM.

He said the existing roof systems would need to be completely replaced in order to put new systems in place and said the elementary school roof is of most concern as it has a thinner membrane and would take more to replace. He said most roofs that KTH replaces would come with a 30 year warranty. Both Englebaugh and Finn noted other projects in which the district may be interested such as skylights, a new air conditioning system and a canopy built over the student pickup area would be more cost effective if they were done during the roofing project.

The expected cost to replace the high school roof according to Englebaugh would be $2.6 million with a 25 year warranty and $2.219 million for the elementary school. He said alternate bids could help reduce those prices. Finn said Pennsylvania is now under a new building code and all projects are being evaluated under the new code. He said the energy and insulation requirements have increased.

“It requires more material and insulation thickness. This gets you more thermal value but also requires a higher cost to complete,” Finn said.

Replacing the track and installing a turf field in the football stadium was also a topic. Lesniewski said the track would have to be replaced within two or three years and it would make sense to do both projects concurrently. Finn agreed with Lesniewski and said the best time to install a turf field would be during a track replacement due to the disruption already being caused to the field.

“If the track completely comes out that will leave the field completely exposed. We would be digging down for the track as well as the turf. All the systems could be replaced at that point,” Finn said.

Englebaugh recommended the base paving be removed during a track replacement due to the multiple failure points underneath. He said the gravel base would be reused, the drainage would be supplemented and new paving and a running surface would be installed. He agreed with Finn and Lesniewski that installing turf is best done during a track replacement.

“The right way to do this is do the turf and the track at the same time so those utilities can be married together and work together, rather than against each other,” Englebaugh said.

He said prices for turf systems vary and alternate bids would give the district options. He said a rough estimate to replace the field would be approximately $800,000 without factoring in graphics and other features that would affect the cost.

School board member Cindy Depp Hutchinson asked how storm water drainage would affect replacing the field. Finn said the district would not need to add more drainage if they were not adding any impervious areas. He said more than an acre of land would be disturbed however and those considerations will have to be taken into account.

Several members of the audience raised concerns about the elementary school playground during the meeting, noting that the ground is often too wet and muddy for the students to utilize the ground during recess.

Lesniewski said there were no plans to address the problem but he understood the ground becoming too wet to use would be an issue. He said the administration is open to suggestions on how to best solve the problem.

Board president Kyle Lingenfelter said this was the first time he had heard about the problem and noted now that problem has been brought to the board’s attention it could be discussed and eventually solved. He said if the stadium field was replaced with turf, he did not see any reason why both schools could not use the field.

“I don’t think anyone can foresee everything that is going to happen. Now that we have heard about it we can hear what it will take to fix. A new track could be used by all students, not just a track team. It sounds to me like the field could be used by the elementary students during inclement weather. That would be a plus for a turf field,” Lingenfelter said.

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